U.S. sending mixed signals to Pak on talks with militants

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Washington, May 3 : The United States is sending mixed signals to Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's Government over its talks with militants.

According to a Washington Times report, the U.S. State Department is keeping a close watch on developments related to the talks.

The official, pleading anonymity, said: "The bottom line for us is that we need to see more results. Any agreement must be enforced."

His remark came amid a week of violence on both sides of the border: a suicide attack in the Khyber Agency in Pakistan which left 30 injured, and an assassination attempt on Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan earlier this week.

Afghan officials said on Thursday that the attack on Karzai was probably carried out by Al Qaeda-related militants from Pakistan's tribal belt.

Pakistan has suffered much violence in the same tribal region. More than 1,000 Pakistanis were killed during military operations in the Tribal Areas under the former government of President Pervez Musharraf.

In Islamabad, the new coalition government is seeking a negotiated agreement with militants.

"We believe that military action alone will not be effective in permanently ending the phenomenon of terrorism," the Washington Times quoted a Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman as having told reporters in Islamabad recently.

On Wednesday, the State Department released a harsh assessment of Pakistan's counter-terrorism activities as part of its annual report on terrorism.

The Bush administration was critical of a 2006 ceasefire in the Tribal Areas, which it says gave militants time to rearm and launch new attacks in Afghanistan.

"Obviously, this was something that was tried before. It did not work before," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said on Wednesday.

"It's important that any agreement be effectively enforced and that it not interrupt operations where we are going after terrorists in that area," she added.

The Bush administration was originally alarmed by the prospect of a ceasefire with the border extremists; but has lately sought to downplay any friction.

ANI

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